Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is the 28th film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This review is spoiler light.
The film is directed by Sam Raimi, written by Michael Waldron, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange, alongside Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams.
Set a few months after the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Dr. Stephen Strange, with the help of both old and new mystical allies, travels into the multiverse to face a mysterious new adversary.
The film is accompanied in theaters by the debut of the first trailer for James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way Of The Water.
The film see’s Sam Raimi return to the super-hero genre and his first time at Marvel Studios following his successful ‘Spider-Man’ trilogy for Sony. Multiverse of Madness is somewhat a return to the action-packed set pieces we have come to know and love from Marvel and with a run-time of just over two hours (relatively short compared to some recent MCU and DC films) the film moves at break-neck pace as we follow Doctor Strange (Cumberbatch) and the newly-introduced America Chavez (Gomez) and co. as they jump through multiple realities as they race to save their own from the destruction by Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlett Witch (Olsen).
With this being a Multiverse movie most of our lead cast are effectively pulling double-duty as they play different versions of themselves throughout the film which is no small task especially for the titular Doctor Strange. Newcomer Xochitl Gomez manages to hold her own amongst an all-star cast of franchise favourites. Between this and SpiderMan: No Way Home the walls are now completely down between the Disney Plus TV shows and the MCU as we pick up from the end of the WandaVision story-line with Elisabeth Olsen getting to go full vilain as she flexes her muscles as The Scarlet Witch whilst at the same time playing Wanda’s story, which is at the emotional core of the film and there is an arc throughout.
This is clearly not just Raimi directing a Marvel movie, this plays more like a Sam Raimi movie set in the Marvel Universe as his visual flair is all over the screen as well as the trademarks and tropes fans have come to know and love. It also feels like he is pushing the envelope towards horror as the film does not hold back on it’s use of blood, gore and more broadly death and an exploration of the effects ‘heroes’ tough decisions have on those around them. There are incredible action sequences throughout which seamlessly blend CGI with special effects and stunts as well as some multiverse trippy-ness and fun. The film is perhaps let down a little by the shorter runtime as we don’t get to have much back story for the new characters and for the film to work it is assuming a lot of prior viewing from its audience (WandaVision, Doctor Strange and Spiderman No Way Home would be required viewing). We also get the return of Danny Elfman’s score who previously worked with Raimi on Spider-Man.
Be sure to watch all the way through the credits for some extra fun…
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